Bobby Hull was supposed be thrown out of his house this month. Instead, thanks partly to Occupy Wall Street activists, he may get to stay.
Last week, Hull said, Bank of America offered him a mortgage modification that will allow him to stay in his Minneapolis home. Occupy Wall Street protesters, working with local community organizers, attracted national attention to the former Marine's foreclosure in December.
"I want to feel really happy and glad about all this, but the word that I put out about this is that I'm not doing this to save my house, I'm doing this to fix the system," Hull told HuffPost. "If they can modify this to help me, they can modify it for everyone else."
Hull said he is only one of millions of homeowners in foreclosure because of what he called bank "loansharking," and hoped more would see their mortgages renegotiated like his. His story was highlighted by Occupy protestors as part of Occupy Our Homes, an offshoot of the Occupy movement that focuses on the foreclosure crisis.
In August, Bank of America sold Hull's home at a foreclosure auction. Hull thought his redemption period -- a homeowner's last chance to reclaim his or her house after a foreclosure sale -- passed on Feb. 17. Three days later he received the modification offer. Jumana Bauwens, a Bank of America spokeswoman, confirmed to HuffPost that it had offered Hull a modification, but said the deal has not yet been finalized.
Hull, a 57-year-old plasterer, had fallen behind on his mortgage after a series of health problems hampered his ability to work in 2009. His previous efforts to win a mortgage mod were unsuccessful. He said he'd given up hope of keeping the house when Occupy protesters and local activists knocked on his door. Their involvement gave him a motivational boost.
Maybe the bank "forgot or overlooked the fact that I am a Marine," Hull said. "We don't quit and run."
Now Hull and a loose collection of neighbors and activists, including Occupy Homes MN and Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, are turning their attention to another Minneapolis homeowner in need, Monique White. On Nov. 8, Occupy protestors started camping out in White's yard in North Minneapolis, demanding that her lenders renegotiate her mortgage. Her home had long since been foreclosed upon after she stopped making payments following a layoff.
After a couple months, the Occupy protesters left White's property. But they pledged to help her through a new chapter in her struggle to keep her home. On Friday she was served with court papers for an eviction hearing.
What Hull's story proves, said Anthony Newby, an organizer with Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, is that when banks are put under enough public pressure, the supposedly impossible can become possible.
"The most significant part of the story for me is that fact that this bank fixed this three days after the end of the redemption period," Newby said. "This sort of community action not only works, it's set a precedent for what's possible. It's raised the bar for what should be possible in this crisis."
"When banks are compelled by communities to do something, they can do whatever they want to do, and Bobby's proof of that," Newby said. Monique White, he said, is in "a very similar situation … We're demanding that the banks sit down with her in good faith, look at the fact that she has enough income to make the payment, and keep her in her home."
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